Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Why is Cancer Killing our Goldens?


Why are Golden Retrievers dying from Cancer so Young?
Christmas Puppies and Kittens - Start the First Days off Right
Rodent Poisons Kill more than Mice
Remembering Past Pets


Why are Golden Retrievers dying from Cancer so Young?

Golden Retrievers are dying at a rate faster than any other breed or mixed breed dog. Approximately 60% of Golden Retrievers will die from a cancer as compared to approximately 30% of other dogs dying from some form of cancer. Worse yet, these Goldens are showing cancers at an earlier age compared to other breeds - some as young as 4 years old and the type of cancers tend to be the more difficult to treat. So what is happening to our Goldens?  

It is not clear. There seems to be a trend but it is not completely clear since there are not public health records that record the cause of death in a pet. Reports from veterinarians, breeders and reviews of large veterinary practices the increased rate of cancer was seen in the Golden Retriever. So something is different with our Goldens but what? We are not sure, but now the Morris Animal Foundation is leading the research to try to find out.

The Morris Animal Foundation is following pure bred Golden Retrievers from age 2 until they pass away. The study started 2 years ago and is going to have 3000 Golden Retrievers equally distributed between male and female, intact and neutered. These animals will also come from an equal distribution from across the United States. It is important to have this representation to not have any bias toward one sex or area of the country. Eligible dogs need to be 2 years old or younger, microchipped before enrollment, and have a 3 generation pedigree that is documented. More specific information is available at www.CanineLifetimeHealth.org

Registered veterinary clinics will do the examinations and gather samples for the study. My clinic, Okaw Veterinary Clinic in Tuscola, Illinois, is a registered clinic and we are accepting dogs now.  When a dog is part of this study, there is an annual exam consisting of a very complete history including nutrition, exercise, travel, and all environment factors. Expect this visit to take at least an hour or more. If there is any health problem, that will be examined and reported as part of the study. Weight, body measurements, and a very complete physical exam are integral to the study. Blood tests, urine, stool, hair and nail clippings will be sent to Morris Animal Foundation for analysis and storage for possible future testing. The results of blood chemistries, urine tests and such will be shared with the registered veterinarian and shared with the owner. These tests will be paid for by the study. Some of the exam or professional costs will be partially covered by the foundation as well. Owners must agree to keep their dog in the study for the duration of the dog's life. If you move, you can find another registered clinic to continue the study.

The study is hoping to find if there is a link to the genetics, nutrition, or environment of the dogs who develop cancer. From that knowledge we can not only help decrease the disease rate in Goldens, but also share this information and technology with human medicine. We don't know what we may find but a few things are becoming apparent. One is that there are genetic differences in the blond colored Golden retriever as compared to the darker, mahogany colored Golden Retriever. Of the dogs enrolled in the study, many more are the blond colored dog, and this is true of most Golden Retrievers out in pet ownership.  That blond colored smaller framed dog is the most popular type of Golden Retriever rather than the 80 lb plus dark burnt Butterscotch colored dog of 30 years ago. Will this show a difference in the longevity? Only time will tell.

We have set up a page on our website with information about the longevity study. If you are interested, please give us a call 217-253-3221 or email us. You do not have to change veterinarians if your veterinarian is not a part of the study. Only the exam as part of the study needs to be done by a clinic registered by Morris Animal Foundation.  The results of blood tests, etc will be copied to your veterinarian as part of your pet's record.



Christmas Puppies and Kittens - Start the First Days off Right

Christmas is a time for gift giving and receiving. Personally, I would rather see people give or receive a pet at a less stressful time of year, but people still get pets at Christmas. If you are set on getting a pet at Christmas, please do not make this a total surprise to the receiver. If you do add a pet to your home, please be sure to follow this information to  make this addition a good experience.   

The first stop should be to a veterinarian who offers fun puppy and kitten exams. I stress the fun because this pup or kitten needs to have some treats and good experiences at the clinic to learn to like the veterinarian. Seek a clinic that offers low stress/pet friendly handling for this important first visit.   Vaccinations can wait a week or so,but if fleas or worms are present those need to be treated. Most clinics will give away a puppy/kitten care kit which will have a lot of training and good health information to help you get off to a good start. When you get home - read the information! So many clients get this free resource and make little use of it - I love it when people actually read the information in the kit and use it. 

For puppies get a crate and start using it the first day. Puppies have to learn to like the crate, so toss treats and feed the puppy in the crate. We have articles and videos on crate training on our clinic website to help you with crate training. Always make it a happy place for them. If your puppy is stressed in the crate, use the mother dog pheromone spray Adaptil/Comfort zone. Spraying a small amount in the crate or on a bandana before crating helps the puppy to settle. The spray can be used  for car trips, on a bandana to wear when people come over as well. Our puppy kits include a coupon for Adaptil and I find it helps a lot of puppies adjust to the new home. Have the puppy sleep in the crate and never use it for punishment. If you use it for banishment, the dog learns to be afraid in it and that leads to crate anxiety.

For kittens, get a low sided box; a disposable lasagna pan with only one inch of litter in it works well. It has to be easy for the kitten to get in and out of so they can use it. Clean the box daily!!!  For kittens,going to the bathroom is a marking behavior, so if it is dirty they will want to go elsewhere. The plain clay or activated charcoal litter is what most kittens like. Confining the kitten with the box at night helps them use it regularly.

Proper play is important for exercise, socialization and learning  good manners for both dogs and cats. For puppies, have a ball, a tug rope and stuffed toy to choose from. Toss the toys around and get the puppy to play at least 15 minutes per day. If the puppy starts to nip or bite stop all play.  For kittens, get a small ball, feather on a stick, and stuffed toy for the kitten to attack. Do not allow the kitten to grab or bite onto your arm. If they do, stop play and when they let go toss the toy away from you to have them direct play away. For adult pets, play is also important.  Follow the same guidelines to start off  a great relationship.

Take your new puppy or kitten out for car rides that are to fun places like the pet store. When people come over to your home, have them toss treats to your pet to have the pet learn people are good. This is socialization and is very important especially for our dogs. Don't let the harsh weather hold you back too much. Even a short trip in the car is good for them. 

If you are adding a new friend to your home, there are some special rules for you to introduce and set up the home for pet harmony. It can get pretty detailed and I have articles at my website, but to make it simple - dogs and cats do not like to share. So every pet has it's own bed,food bowls, toys  and do not allow them to swap or bug each other around these items. Feed pets in completely separate areas and remove the food bowls. Greet, feed and play with the established pet first and make time equal between both pets. These are some of the most essential rules to keep harmony with adding a dog or cat.



Rodent Poisons Kill more than Mice

I recently attended a continuing education seminar updating the various poisons used to eliminate vermin. These products are readily available through hardware stores, pest control service sand farm supply stores. Mice are a problem after harvest and do carry disease thus needing some form of vermin control. It is easy for pets and wildlife to become poisoned by these products and the consequences are severe.

Currently there are 3 types of poison on the market. Each of these types acts differently to kill the mice and only 1 type - the anti coagulant type - has an antidote treatment available. The other 2 types either damage the kidneys or affect the central nervous system. Currently, all a veterinarian can do is try to support the animal to self clear these 2 forms of poisons if they are involved. Sadly, many pets are not diagnosed for poisoning until the damage is severe and they often do not survive.

The poisons come as granules, large clumps, or bars that are blue or turquoise. They are made to be very attractive to eat.Often I will have clients report that the dog dug the bait out from under the stove  in order to eat it. This is how attractive the product is. If a mouse, rabbit or other animal has eaten the poison and then the cat or dog kills and eats this animal, the poison is still active. This is a very common way our birds of prey are dying in the wild - from eating poisoned mice and small prey. Most commonly, clients are not aware of what their pet is eating and only discover the signs of bleeding from the body, feeling lethargic or coughing. Please do not wait if your pet shows these signs. Immediately take your pet to the veterinarian,especially if they are allowed to roam outdoors. The quicker treatment starts, the more successful it can be.

Treatment usually consists of intensive care to administer antidote, vomiting induction, activated charcoal administration to the stomach,IV fluids,blood donations and special tests. Most pets need to be hospitalized. So it can become expensive in terms of dollars or your pet's life. It is also difficult to predict which pets will make it through poisoning treatment. It can be heartbreaking trying to save these pets due to the potency of the poisons and the unpredictability of what part of the body is affected.

So how can you control those mice and vermin? Snap traps are effective - yes more work but less dangerous for the non pest animals. I suggest a cat that is a good mouser. This may be unpopular to some, but please consider the facts.Cats love to hunt - killing something makes them happy.  So a cat that is neutered (don't want to add to pet over population), fed a good diet, and vaccinated, will still want to hunt down those pesky critters and kill them. The cat would be a calm, happy cat and there would be pest control without the risks of poisoning the wildlife and other pets. There are a lot of cats needing a home. A well cared for farm cat is a pretty good life for the cat.  

If you do use any poison, keep the package and label to refer to. Do not allow your dog or cat anywhere near the baited area. Check your pet's stool,urine for any blood at all and be aware of how they are eating and acting every day. Lastly have your veterinarian's phone number available to contact them in the case of an emergency.



Remembering Past Pets

Christmas time is marked with many traditions and memories for us. Often we remember family members both human and not at Christmas time. For some, these memories may evoke sad feelings. For others, there is a fond, happy feeling when remembering the cat that always climbed to the top of tree ready to knock it down or the dog that would always manage to get those cookies off the counter. 

Our pets are a part of our life. They live with us and become a part of our every day rituals. They may sleep with us, nudge us to wake even on the weekend. They greet us at the door with a meow or happy bark, and force us to get up and take care of them even when we may feel low. Unconditional love is often credited to our pets, something that we humans often work towards but fall short at times. When our pets die, we feel a great loss for their companionship and those daily rituals that have become a part of our life.

Grief over losing a pet is normal, and we pass through the same stages in grieving pet loss as we do any other loss. Acknowledging this grief and taking the time to create memorials to your pet is a healthy way to go through this process. In recognition of our client's pets that have passes, we have a memorial pet tree set up in our office over Christmas time. Photos of our client's pets are put on ornaments and placed on this tree. If you are not a client, you may also bring by a copy of a photo that will be made into an ornament that will be placed on the tree.

After New Years we hold a pet memorial service in the lobby of our practice. It will beat 3 pm Saturday Jan 3rd. We read pet blessings read, light candles, and share our stories of our pets. It is not full of sadness but rather appreciation and acknowledgement for what our pets mean to us. Anyone is welcome to come.       

We started this event a few years ago. I had heard of some clinics doing this and thought, it may be a nice way to stay connected with clients and also honor the pets. I did not realize how much it helped me and my staff to have an event where we could remember these beloved pets who we had cared for. When a patient dies, we also feel a loss - not as deep as the families - but a sadness as well. Taking some time to remember the good things about that pet and expressing appreciation for being able to care for a family member is very helpful to us too.

Please stop by to see the tree anytime we are open. Mondays and Fridays we are open until 7 pm, otherwise until 5 pm (closed on Thursday). We are located at 140 W. Sale Street - downtown Tuscola. At our office we also have information and ideas to help you or a friend if you are grieving after the loss of a pet. 

Okaw Veterinary Clinic
140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953
(217) 253-3221


Mon & Fri 8 am - 6 pm
Tues & Wed 8 am - 5 pm
Sat 8 am - noon
Closed Thurs & Sun

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